Smoking is good for you. Fact.


Productivity trumps presenteeism every time. Sure, input is necessary but output is what really counts. And we know that taking time out, little and often, helps us to stay sharp and to deliver. Here’s a little something that Katherine Wiid found out about and told me which may interest you:

A man by the name of Boice, has extensively researched the productivity of academics. Do you know that there is a differential of 7:1 between the best and ordinary academics?

Highly productive academics
* work early in the morning before the household gets up for 1 to 1.5 hours (maximum)
* work on one project at a time and working at it a little every day
* work in snatches of about 15 minutes and take mini breaks
* stop.

Of course, then they go into the office and attend to the busy-work of universities and the complementary work of teaching. In working regularly every day and STOPPING, they achieve 7 times more than people who “binge” work.

Despite this, we often see people running from meeting to meeting, oh so terribly busy. It feels like a competition to outbusy everyone else. What’s the driver? Fear? An attempt to make oneself indispensable? Whatever it is, a long day with no breaks serves no one well.

Which brings me to smoking. I was with a friend yesterday who suggested that maybe smoking is good for you? What!! He explained…

Most organisations I know barely if ever bat an eyelid when a smoker gets up, and pops out for a cigarette break. And yet they can be gone for upwards of fifteen minutes, several times a day. Imagine the questioning a non-smoker would get if once every hour or two they got up and wandered off for quarter of an hour. “Haven’t you got work to do?” “Aren’t you busy enough?” It probably wouldn’t be tolerated; peer group pressure at least would likely make the habit fail. Yet a much more dangerous habit at least brings with it the potential benefit of increased productivity. So you see it turns out that smoking is good for you.

OK I’m kidding, and so was he. It isn’t. What is much better is to create a culture where it’s not only OK to take regular breaks, it’s encouraged. So, if you are in a position of visible leadership. Take a break. Encourage someone to join you. Do it again, and again. Just enough that other folk know it’s OK to refresh and recharge for their benefit, and your benefit, and the customers benefit, and the shareholders benefit…

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

7 thoughts on “Smoking is good for you. Fact.”

  1. Smokers have become a mildly rebellious, at least independent, group with a strong sense of social cohesion. Productivity and effectiveness in today’s world have little to do with being physically there and much to do with relationships.
    Smokers at work also know the difference between being seen to be not working at your desk and not being seen at your desk. They don’t “just wander off”. They get up and leave with purpose. They may even gather others, or other smokers may notice and purposefully follow.
    A lot of very good collaboration and relationship building happens near the ash-tray at work (or nowadays, just outside it).
    A good consultant or leader may learn to smoke (just a bit) in order to gain access to a whole new view of the organisation. It is often a lot faster than a survey!
    So smoking may not just be good for the individual, but also for the organisation.

    Don’t let HR find out though, or they will make it compulsory with defined competence levels, e.g.
    1. Elementary: Can puff low-tar without inhaling
    2. Practiced: Inhales medium tar without coughing
    3. Experienced: Coughs violently with first of the day then inhales non-filters with consistent light wheezing.
    4. Mastery: Alternates between cigars, pipes and Gitanes or Camel, exchanges cigarettes and lights with others, can continue smoking while drinking soup.

    1. Hello Jonathan, thanks very much for popping by. I wonder if all four competence levels can be achieved (within the first quarter…) we might offer a Zippo lighter as a bonus?

  2. Doug,
    I am a smoker in the work place a lot of my team smoke, so if we do go outside for a wee burn, we actually converse with each other not always about work but always in a social way, I often find out more by having a fag with the team, makes total business sense to me, I suggest all senior people start somoking and pop along to the smoking shelters and find out how people are feeling it could be the most cost effective way of engaging with colleagues, and you would not have to pay for expensive surveys.
    just 20 marlboro £6.20.

  3. Bizarrely, I think I agree with you here. When your plummeting nicotine levels force you to have a smoke break, you’re giving your brain a chance to do what it does best, you’re developing social networks, and you’re quickly gathering feedback about whatever projects you’ve got on the go. You might find your physiotherapist is pleased with you as well – getting up for a smoke is a forced break from sitting at the computer in an odd position!

    I don’t smoke but I find that my best work is done while not working – I have the best, most innovative solutions and most creative ideas while out having coffee at Dan & DeCarlo’s in North London (great coffee BTW). Part of it is just leaving my brain some room to think without being bombarded by email / phone / twitter, etc… part of it is chatting with someone who sees things from another perpective.

    Great post.

    1. Hi Janis. Thanks for popping by and for letting us know where the good coffee’s at in North London Your kind words are very much appreciated. I’m sorry for not replying sooner – truth is I’m mid way into a website revamp being helped along by the totally smashing MattChevy out USA way. Watch this space – everything’s coming together very soon.

      Anyway, more power to your creative thinking you’ve suggested a couple of great ways to create brainspace, can’t wait to try them out.

  4. Doug,

    Interesting post, in my previous job my boss actually ‘told’ me to start smoking again, during a feeble attempt to quit because I had become so grumpy and fidgety- and yes to an extent unproductive.

    On a side note, I’m told by a friend, that in Germany non-smokers get more holiday then smokers!

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